In the next few weeks, Republicans have an opportunity to rebrand the Democrats as Big Government Socialists.
This is the kind of opportunity which may come once in a lifetime.
Every Democratic senator and representative has already voted for the outline of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ $3.5 trillion Big Government Socialist bill. No matter what lies they tell back home about being moderates, their names are right there on pages S6237 (Aug. 10) and H4371 (Aug. 24) of the Congressional Record. When it mattered, there were no moderate Democrats. The only Democrats serving in Congress were unanimously willing to vote for Big Government Socialism.
The Big Government Socialist brand will isolate the Washington Democrats from their own moderates and from the rest of the country. Faced with this clear betrayal of their values, millions of grassroots Democrats will find themselves having to organize a moderate wing of the Democratic Party (something Bill Clinton tried to do as governor of Arkansas in the 1980s).
In a number of upcoming primary elections, there may be moderate Democratic candidates prepared to run against the Big Government Socialist incumbents using the $3.5 trillion bill vote as proof the incumbents need to be replaced.
The polling is clear and devastating for the Big Government Socialist Democrats. Americans in general favor Free Market Capitalism over Big Government Socialism by a huge margin (59 percent to 16 percent). Among swing voters, there is an almost 5:1 advantage for Free Market Capitalism over Big Government Socialism (82 percent to 18 percent).
Perhaps most ominous of all for the Washington Democrats, swing voters already believe by 69 percent to 31 percent that the $3.5 trillion Big Government Socialist bill proves Big Government Socialists now define the Democratic Party.
If everyone who is opposed to the $3.5 trillion bill uses the term Big Government Socialists, within a few weeks the 50 Senate Democrats and 220 House Democrats who have already voted for the bill will be permanently defined as members of a repudiated value system.
When the detailed version of the $3.5 trillion Sanders bill makes clear its wide range of tax increases and enormous expansion of government into our personal lives, Democrats will have two choices. They could vote “no” to soften their images back home and defeat the bill. Or they could double down, vote “yes,” and hope the wave of Pelosi-Schumer-Biden money will overcome the immense voter hostility to Big Government Socialism.
The real test for the next month falls on Republicans and conservatives. Can they have a disciplined focus on defining the $3.5 trillion bill as Big Government Socialism?
Can they communicate nationally – in every state and congressional district – that the Democratic incumbents have proven they are Big Government Socialists by voting for the $3.5 trillion bill in August?
When facing hostile, distracting questions from left-wing television reporters, can Republicans discipline themselves to constantly point out that the $3.5 trillion bill was written by an avowed socialist and is Big Government Socialism?
When face-to-face with Democratic incumbents, can the Republicans muster the courage and discipline to stick to facts and hammer away that “on this date you voted for a $3.5 trillion Big Government Socialist Bill and that makes you a Big Government Socialist?”
Finally, can Republican Party officials, activists, and candidates focus on communicating that Democrats have become Big Government Socialists – and that the old moderate Democratic Party has been replaced by a new radical party?
These votes in favor of Big Government Socialism have given Republicans the opportunity of a lifetime to brand the Democratic Party so it becomes a minority for a generation or more.
The test now is on the Republican side – and in the conservative movement – to see if they can rise to the opportunity.
Newt Gingrich served as a Republican representative for Georgia and as speaker of the House of Representatives.